Public Papers

Remarks to Business Leaders on Fast Track Authority Extension


The President. At the outset of this meeting I just want to thank all the business leaders for being here. And I particularly want to thank Ambassadors Brock and Strauss. This fight for a free-trade agreement -- the Fast Track extension -- it protects the Uruguay round; it protects our Enterprise for the Americas Initiative; it protects the North American trade pact that we seek, agreement with Mexico. And it is very, very important. And I want to pledge to this nonpartisan group that I will do everything I can possibly do, working with the Congress, to get this Fast Track authority passed.

And it is in our interest. The point I made to President Salinas of Mexico, for whom I have great respect, is that it is in the interest of the United States of America. I also happen to believe it will benefit Mexico.

Similarly, everybody around this table has taken a leadership role in the Uruguay round, and that one is critical. We simply cannot fail to go forward with the negotiations. I will be doing everything I can, and I want to ask everybody here to do all that you can, with the various Members of Congress. I think when they understand this that we will carry the day.

There are some questions that we have to answer, questions that have been raised by supporters. Chairman Rostenkowski raised some questions. They're good questions. I think there are very good answers for them. But I would repeat what I said to a group in Houston, yesterday it was: This isn't a partisan matter. The Democratic leader in the Senate, the Speaker, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee are strongly supporting this. And a lot of Republicans are. Some Republicans have reservations; some Democrats have reservations.

So, what we want to do is to approach this without -- [inaudible] -- in mind and get the job done. And I believe we can do it. I really am confident we can, but I don't want to see this much horsepower gathered without asking you earnestly to do the very best you can on the Hill because that's where the action is and that's where the answer should be finally decreed. But I think we're going to win it.

Ambassador Brock. So do I.

Q. Mr. President, can Iraq be persuaded to accept the refugees -- --

The President. It doesn't have anything to do with Fast Track. I want to talk about Fast Track today, and we'll have no more press conferences today because as I mentioned to an earlier group we've had four in the last 3 days, and that's unfair to the press. [Laughter] Maybe four in the last 4 days -- something like that.

Note: The President spoke at 1:21 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to William E. Brock and Robert S. Strauss, former U.S. Trade Representatives; President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico; Dan Rostenkowski, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; George J. Mitchell, Senate majority leader; and Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives.